Whirlwind of a day, started off with cupcakes and coffee (yes I know, I did not stutter. CUPCAKES) before catching a tour bus. The goal of today? Cram everything we haven’t seen yet into one day, ready, set, go!
The first stop was Montserrat, it’s a monestary in the Catalan pre-coastal range outside of Barcelona. The drive takes about an hour through their national park, they say you are not a true Catalan until you hike to the top. This hike took our guide 2 days to complete. Not that hardcore? Don’t worry there are a ton of other hikes. Did I do any of them? Nope sorry folks, time crunch and all.
Folk lore says this monestary was built around a statue that they call the black Madonna. They had intended to carry the statue back with them but the story goes that the farther they carried her the heavier she became until the men could no longer lift her. Since they could not move her they decided it was a sign from God that they should build a church around her. And so hiking was invented. Summary? Cool church built into the side of the mountain surrounded by a national park, and they have a cheese market, need I say more?
Second stop La Sagrada Familia Basilica, another work of gaudi and in my personal opinion the most impressive architectural engineering of its time. From there our guide hustled a bus full of grumbling baby boomers back on the bus (they wanted to take more pictures) to the next stop.
The Park Guell was the final stop of this tour, at the time Gaudi designed and completed it the community viewed it as a failed urbanism project. Walking through it I was in a complete state of shock, this man was so ahead of his time I wish he had been able to see the result of his work.
The park in question was designed to have 60 plots for homes with the center of the development containing a market, a community center, and loads of walking paths. Each segment of the park contained loads of religious symbolism as well as brilliantly designed function (water retaining/collecting, ect…).
(Palm trees are the exterior rock structure, the inside of the cave has a shape mimicking a wave)
All the material used were recycled or taken from on site. Only three of the lots were ever developed, in today’s world those sites would easily be million dollar sites, each with a view of the park, city, and ocean. Our tour dropped off at our hotel where we went for a swim, it was seriously cooking outside. This was the weather I expected.
Jeff somehow convinced our guide to give us a private tour of La Sagrada Familia, he met us back on site. Tickets were sold out, turned out our guide knew everyone there and before we knew it we were in the church. There really are no words and definitely no selfies that can explain the inside of this Basilica. Where other cathedrals and churches are dark and solemn Sagrada Familia is airy, light, and completely gorgeous. I got chills the moment I walked in. The structure made me think about man’s first interaction with God, Adam walking under the trees of Eden with the afternoon light filtering through the trees.
Gaudis architecture has an innocence about it that strikes me down to my core. The symbolism is in every pillar and door. I stayed until they kicked me out and I know I will be going back.
We arrived back at the hotel totally bushed, the hotel had a pop up Indian restaurant that we took advantage of. Each part of the taking menu was packed with flavor and spices, the theme was carried through the waiters outfits to the cocktails. Jeff discovered his new favorite drink in the process, it’s called the Spirit of Bombay. It’s a gin drink with a hint of curry flavor to it, sounds odd but the flavors came together in perfect harmony.
(Dessert and our curry cocktails)
Perfect end to a crazy day!